As the principal partner of Solutia SDO, Jackie Clark has had a direct role in managing the people behind the technology that’s transformed businesses across Canada. When IT projects stall, this seasoned leader, who’s had a front seat watching tech transform business in Canada, knows how to manage people to get projects running again. This bi-weekly column is for leaders working on enterprise-wide projects searching for insight on navigating the issues and pain points that hijack success. We’ll be sharing the most common questions Clark hears from her clients and her responses to them. Do you want your project management problems solved? Leave a comment with your question or  Tweet Jackie @sdosolutia.

What do change management and unlearning mean to organizations that are moving towards data collaboration vs. viewing data as inputs and outputs of applications?

As technologies evolve and new categories of how data is consumed are created, it is critical for organizations to have both an open and fluid means of changing and “unlearning” concepts and skills.

So, what does unlearning truly mean?

It’s not the notion of forgetting the knowledge, skills, and abilities that have been cultivated. Rather, it’s the ability to “choose” an alternative way to view information that, in turn, requires the ability to step outside of our comfort zones and embrace new perspectives, theories, technologies, and ways of managing enterprise information and data.

As an example, let’s say you go to the United Kingdom and rent a car. You will need to learn the placement of the various controls as well as how to drive on the left side of the road. As the mechanics of driving in the United Kingdom can be learned easily, the challenging part is unlearning how to drive on the right side of the road and constantly reminding yourself to “stay left.”For this reason, crosswalks in the United Kingdom have reminders for pedestrians to “look right.”It is not easy to unlearn the mental habits that no longer serve us in the moment and for the long term.

Therefore, the focus of change management and unlearning strategies need to be two-fold:

  1. Cultural Change – at a corporate level, how will your strategy shift the corporate culture from our conventional understanding of data?
  2. Mindset Change – at an individual level, how will your strategy move from data storage, management, movement and transformation to data collaboration?

Remember, change takes time and unlearning is a real notion in the fast-paced technologically driven society that we all live in.